Ted Pickard was here in 1943
By Allie Webber
Theodore (Ted) Picard, one of three U.S.Navy veterans who returned to Kapiti in 2012 to honour his ten mates who drowned in a tragic landing exercise off Paekakariki Beach during World War II, died in Hatfield (Maine) on November 9, aged 97.
The three men forged a life-long friendship in the Navy.
Mr Picard was coxswain (driver) of an LCVP loaded with Marines in combat gear, Ray Plante was on the ship itself, and Frank Zalot was in the beach party of 25 sailors whose task was to manage the flotilla after landing their human cargo.
Tragedy off the Paekakariki coast
On June 19, 1943, the U.S.S. American Legion sailed from Wellington where it picked up 1600 US Marines, delivering them to Paekakariki for the exercise.
It had 35 landing craft (LCVP’s) on board, each manned by about 50 Marines and equipped with a ramp that could be lowered to allow personnel to disembark or cargo to be unloaded.
The (late) Frank Zalot recalled that freezing sea temperatures, cold rain and gale force winds, on the day that caused
“everything to go wrong … setting the conditions for a perfect storm.”
Returning in 2012 for the 70th anniversary
Ted Picard, a 1st class Bosun’s Mate (Maine) joined Frank ( from Massachusetts) and Ray Plante, a 2nd class Radarman, also from Maine, at the Salute 70 – Memorial Day Service and celebrations in 2012. They stayed in Paekakariki village with their families.
The three men were present for the blessing of the new Sailors’ Memorial – in memory of the USS American Legion sailors who died off Whareroa Beach during the exercise: H C Winfrey (Ensign), H J Britton (Seaman), J P Lorbietski (Seaman), W D Roundtree (Seaman), A L Skoog (Boatswain’s Mate), K G Snow (Seaman), A P Thatcher (Seaman), C F Vetter , (Seaman), W J Yanghis (Seaman) and D G Cox (Seaman).
Relatives of H.C.Winfrey, A.L.Skoog and A.P.Thatcher have all visited the Memorial and the names of the men who died are now read each year by students from Kapiti, Paraparaumu and Otaki colleges attending Memorial Day services in the park.
A long retirement
Ted Picard retired in 1983 as a supervisor from the former Atlas Copco Manufacturing company.
He was an avid golfer, bowler and a member of the Hatfield American Legion.
He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.